The Company’s Green Accounts provide numerical data on the environmental impact of Landsvirkjun’s operations.
Landsvirkjun has a certified environmental management system, in accordance with the international environmental standard ISO 14001. The Company works systematically to reduce the impact of its operations. Significant environmental aspects related to the Company’s operations are managed and monitored. These include the utilisation of natural resources, emissions into air and water as well as the natural environment and visual impact.
Hydropower operations fully offset
Landsvirkjun‘s GHG emissions from operations amounted to 53, 000 tonnes CO2 –eq, which can mostly be attributed to geothermal utilisation (70%) and emissions from hydropower reservoirs (28%). Estimated carbon sequestration using land reclamation and re-forestation measures was 30 thousand tonnes CO2 –eq in 2017.
Landsvirkjun’s carbon footprint = total GHG emissions – carbon offsetting
Landsvirkjun’s carbon footprint in 2017 was therefore approx. 23,000 tonnes CO2 –eq. The carbon footprint increased by 22% when compared with the previous year which can be attributed to increased emissions as a result of the new 45 MW Þeistareykir Geothermal Power Station and the fact that a new gas-rich production well became active at Krafla. If the carbon footprint per unit of energy is considered, then Landsvirkjun‘s carbon footprint was 1.6 tonnes CO2 –eq in 2017. The division of emissions between hydropower and geothermal energy shows that Landsvirkjun has already offset all its hydropower emissions and approx. 40% of its geothermal emissions.
Landsvirkjun’s overall fossil fuel consumption reduced by 18% in the last five years
The number of green vehicles increased between years and 19% of Landsvirkjun’s vehicle fleet is now electric. There are now 15 electric vehicles and 4 hybrids. Green vehicles in Landsvirkjun’s fleet have therefore increased by 50%.
Landsvirkjun uses fossil fuels to operate vehicles, machinery and equipment and reserve energy generators. The fuel consumption of hired vehicles and employee air travel is also registered.
Landsvirkjun’s total consumption of fossil fuels (diesel and petrol) in 2017 was 236 thousand litres and diesel oil was the most common source of fuel. Fossil fuel consumption has decreased by 18% in the last 5 years which can mostly be attributed to the reduced consumption of vehicles. Consumption continued to decrease in all areas of operation in 2017, with the exception of the Þjórsá area where consumption increased between years. The increase can be attributed to a reduction in the use of biodiesel, due to problems experienced by Landsvirkjun’s supplier. Increased consumption can also be attributed to increased fossil fuel consumption, due to research and construction projects.
Hydrogen sulphide emissions into the atmosphere under set limits
Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) emissions have so far been an unavoidable part of geothermal energy utilisation in Iceland and can have a negative impact on humans and the ecosystem. Natural emissions from geothermal areas also affect the concentration of hydrogen sulphide in the atmosphere.
Landsvirkjun monitors the concentration of hydrogen sulphide in the atmosphere at its geothermal utilisation sites in the northeast of Iceland. Real-time results and annual reports on monitoring can be accessed on Landsvirkjun’s website. The monitoring station at Reykjahlíð School is closest to utilisation areas at Krafla and Bjarnarflag.
The monitoring results for 2017 show that the concentration of hydrogen sulphide never exceeded environmental limits 5 µg/m³ (±3 µg/m³) at Landsvirkjun’s monitoring stations. The rolling average concentration of hydrogen sulphide, over a 24 hour period, never exceeded environmental limits (50 µg/m³) at the Reykjahlíð School. The results from monitoring at the Reykjahlíð School, where the yearly average for hydrogen sulphide concentrations for 2017 was 3.6 µg/ m3, can be seen below.
Deep re-injection of separated water supports improved geothermal utilisation
The utilisation process produced 8,631 thousand tonnes of separated water from geothermal power stations. Landsvirkjun re-injected 69% of this back into the geothermal reservoir. The largest quantity of separated water is from the Krafla Geothermal Power Station (65%) whereas Þeistareykir produced 19% and Bjarnarflag produced 16%.
The Krafla Geothermal Power Station produced 5,607 thousand tonnes of separated water and 4,590 thousand tonnes were re-injected back into the geothermal reservoir. Re-injection supports the improved utilisation of the geothermal system and reduces the impact of geothermal production at the surface.
Mývatn unaffected by geothermal water from the power stations
Groundwater monitoring has been conducted annually since 1997 in springs by Mývatn to assess the impact of brine discharge from Krafla and Bjarnarflag
Monitoring is based on natural tracers such as Arsenic which are at a much higher concentration in discharge water from the power stations than that found in groundwater. The concentration of Arsenic in groundwater samples, collected in springs by Mývatn has always measured below environmental limits and it can therefore be assumed that there has either not been affected or has been negligibly affected by geothermal water from the power stations.
Seven environmental incidents in 2017
One of Landsvirkjun’s objectives is to operate without environmental incident. An environmental incident is defined as an incident, which according to the Company’s operation permit has to be reported to the environmental authorities or an incident during operations that violates the law, regulations, or the Company’s work regulations. There were 7 environmental incidents during Landsvirkjun’s operations in 2017. Four of these occurred in daily operations and three occurred during road construction work carried out by contractors.
The incidents included an oil and hydraulic fluid leakage, vegetation damage from run-off water, plastic pipes lost in waterways and failures in the water management system.
The oil and hydraulic fluid leakages and vegetation damage were reported to the relevant health authorities and necessary action was taken. Subsequent action included minimising any environmental impact and the review of work procedures with the relevant parties.
Here you can download Landsvirkjun's Green accounts for 2017.